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Old 04-02-2008, 08:27   #1
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Companion Way Steps

The bottom step on the companion way ladder is starting to brake off at the nose. It is Approx 1" from the tip of the step to where it is split. I have a box of 2.5" long #8 SS screws that I use to hang exterior doors. To repair the stair I am thinking of breaking the split then gluing it back together (Don't know that type of glue to use) and then drilling a pilot hole every inch or so and placing these screws in the holes. It seems to me that the screws will act as rebar holding the step on. I was thinking of adding the screws to the other stairs as well. Is this a good idea or should I just replace the step?
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Old 04-02-2008, 11:11   #2
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Without seeing it it is hard to say. I'm inclined to just replacing the step. The previous owner of my 27 tried that same technique with a broken fiddle and now a permanent (and pretty) repair are out of the question. As for an adhesive I would use epoxy. Have you considered gluing it and then placing a reinforcement along the bottom of the step?
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Old 04-02-2008, 17:29   #3
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If it tweer me, I would use dowel material were you want to put the screws. I would first drill the holes for the dowel, then open the crack with a wedge and leave it there whilst i laid a layer of epoxy glue into it. The remove the wedge, Insert the dowels and wipe clean with a 'little' acetone on a rag. Please use newspaper under the project.
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Old 05-02-2008, 16:28   #4
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Assuming your treads are solid wood and not plywood, the repair you describe sounds generally reasonable although the length of the #8 screws is a little short. I'd go up to a 3" screw at 3" on centers horizontally into the front edge of the step at the mid-point. Drill a pilot hole a tad smaller than the theads on the screws and use a counter bore to allow you to plug the screw holes. If the plug's for a #8 screw are too large, drop down to a #6. Don't "break-off" the lip as you won't be able to align it very well afterward. Pre-drill your holes, bend the lip down a little and flood the crack with epoxy and then insert and tighten the screws and wipe off the excess epoxy with a cloth and some Acetone. The tension on the screws will squeeze the grain of the wood together so that the cantelevered edge can withstand the shear from being stepped on. If the treads are plywood, the foregoing may not work as well as the grain of each lamination will be crosswise to one another in which case you will not be able to tighten the screws very well in the center laminations.

Good luck!

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Old 06-02-2008, 02:32   #5
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s/v HyLyte’s method will also work (to some extent) with plywood steps.
Insert "∅ or 5/8" wood dowels horizontally through the steps at each screw location, perhaps " - 5/8" in from the lip edge. The dowels provide cross-grain thread grip & bearing “meat” for the screw to grab.
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Old 06-02-2008, 05:49   #6
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You also can buy an inexpensive "biscuit cutter" and "justify" it for this need, then you have one!! Dowels can be hard to line up, or you need a good dowel jig with inserts for various drill bit sizes which can be almost the same price as a biscuit cutter. Get some number 20 biscuits, or as large as you can fit...a biscuit cutter will automatically line up the wood amazingly flush when you reassemble it...without any screws at all.

In my cabinet work I go through hundreds of biscuits and I find myself using biscuits in many weird applications (like yours) that I would not ordinarily do if I did not have one, but a biscuit cutter is a good investment..

Unless you want to go really nuts and get a tenoning jig...OK, back to reality,,biscuit cutter is fine.

As far as glue, normal yellow woodworkers glue marked "indoor or outdoor" should do fine. Joints made with biscuits and yellow wood glue will never break at the old joint, they always break tearing wood away from the joint on one side or the other. I say this after some mistakes wishing I could break it at the old joint...never works..if I ever have to undo a mistake, I put it on the table saw and recut it.

Oh..a biscuit cutter will work even on a broken surface...the slot it cuts has a little of free play
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Old 06-02-2008, 06:24   #7
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Good point - biscuit or plate jointer.
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